‘That Was Really Scary’: Kate Miller-Heidke Took A Huge Leap Of Faith With Her New Album

30 October 2020 | 9:41 am | The Music Team

There's a tonne of new music released every Friday and wading through it to find your next favourite album is an almost impossible task. 'The Music' team get it and we're here to help, bringing you our Album Of The Week each Friday. Here's why Kate Miller-Heidke’s ‘Child In Reverse’ is this week's pick.

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Australian talent Kate Miller-Heidke took a leap of faith with her fifth album, Child In Reverse, and it’s paid off big time.

For her first album since 2014's O Vertigo!, the singer took a more pop-centric approach to songwriting, collaborating with local artist Evan Klar and American talent Hailey Collier (who she met at a songwriting camp last year), and the result is a new sound that retains a strong vocal element, but explores new sonic territory and utilises more electronic elements.

What we're saying...

Review by Guido Farnell. Read the full review here.

"Child In Reverse delivers eleven nuggets of finely crafted pop tunes that are soft, dreamy and impossibly silky smooth whilst moving to compulsive grooves. 

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"Lyrically, Miller-Heidke is in an introspective mood, dealing with difficult haunting memories, disappointment and the hurt of a broken heart. The struggle is real but a light touch, with airy synths and sweet pop hooks complete with the cheeky little operatic trills Miller-Heidke likes to slip in here and there, prevents this line of thought from getting completely depressing. This approach manoeuvres the album to a place where Miller-Heidke and listeners can find inner strength rather than defeat..."

"Child In Reverse is adult pop music which, presented in fresh feelgood tones, runs very deep."

What they're saying...

“I’m always interested in challenging myself and taking it somewhere new, and I’m probably also influenced by whatever I’m listening to at the time,” Miller-Heidke told The Music in the lead up to Child In Reverse’s release. The Music's Daniel Cribb chats with Miller-Heidke about her new sound, how it all came together and more.

“It has been a while between albums and I guess I got sort of diverted in the interim, having a baby, that was quite time consuming, and then obviously working in theatre with The Rabbits and Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, so [Child In Reverse] feels like a beautiful rediscovery of my love of pop music.”

“It’s a strange time to be putting out a record; it’s completely different to what it would normally feel like if I could be on the road, playing these new songs, but in a way, I’m really glad that I’m putting it out now. Particularly having been in Melbourne, I’ve been feeling so just detached from the world and the rest of humanity, and music has been such a beautiful connectivity tool for me and I’ve been relying on it more than ever, so I’m glad that I’ve got my own tiny little offering to put out.”

“It’s a little bit nerve-wracking and it’s really exciting for me as well. I’ve been sitting on these songs for like nine-ten month now, so I can’t wait for people to have it in their ears. I think the [electronic elements on the album] were largely driven by [producer] Evan [Klar], with encouragement from me. I love his approach to electronic pop music; yes, they all sound made in a computer but they all have this sort of beautiful, imperfect human warmth to them.

“His arrangements are a little bit strange and surprising, but they’ve got this sparkly, airy sweetness and I think that style compliments my voice beautifully.”

“I guess just having those collaborators to kind of lean on, it was probably, for me, the easiest process that I’ve ever gone through and I think you can hear that in the songs too; they’re not heavy or dark or profoundly serious – there are serious moments, but those are threaded through with playful, almost child-like [elements].

“I wanted it to retain that spontaneity that we felt, the three of us in the room, and we didn’t have time to edit ourselves too much. It happened really quickly, and easily and it felt free.”

“If you go to one of those songwriting camps, the expectation is that you’re sent into a room with two strangers and you’ll make a song by the end of the day, so you don’t really have time to sort of let your left brain come in and take over, it just sort of has to be a fast, intuitive process. I found that, kind of to my surprise, that I loved the pace of that, working really quickly.

“I even found that my very first vocal take, when I was still almost struggling to remember how the songs went, had this sense of freshness and spontaneity that I really liked. It was the first time that I discovered that. I met Evan and Hayley on the first day of that SongHubs and we just kind of continued on with that same kind of setup of just doing a song a day and it was just so exciting.”

“Because of concerns around authenticity, I didn’t want other people to put a lyric into my mouth – especially people I hadn’t even met. There was a snobbishness around that whole setup, I guess. I also did have a couple of really bad experiences with co-writing early on in my career, which put me off it.

“I actually think that all of those opinions and dismissive about it, they came from just a sense of fear really, because it’s very exposing and vulnerable when you’re in a room with people and you’ve got to come up with ideas on the spot. Some of your ideas are gonna be shit or maybe you won’t come up with anything. That was really scary to me; I’ve always been scared to be exposed as a fraud and that just seemed like a setting where that was really likely to happen. But it didn’t and I was just totally shocked.”

“It was just pure luck. She was working downstairs on her record in the same studio and we’d sort of cross paths and see each other in the kitchen and have lunch together. We were looking for someone to sing on that song and I wanted to ask her, but I was a bit scared and nervous, and then one day Evan just said, ‘Get over it. Just go knock on her door and ask her – she’s lovely.’ She just said ‘yes’ right away and the next day she rocked up and knew the song back to front and kind of made it her own. She’s got this really intriguing aesthetic. Her voice carries all this nuance of emotion and I think she transformed the whole song.”

Check out Child In Reverse below.